A modified fishing boat used by three recreational fishers who were convicted of illegal crabbing earlier this year was destroyed on Wednesday at Capalaba.
The two men and a woman, all from South East Queensland, were caught off Victoria Point in September last year when a Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol (QBFP) team intercepted their vessel.
Officials found five mud crabs and a legal bream on board, but the boats were taken to the Redlands QBFP station for inspection on suspicion of its floor having been modified.
Sixty-nine mud crabs were found inside a secret compartment under the floor.
Of the 69 crabs, 24 were undersized male and 34 were female.
The offenders, who pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of undersized and female crabs in Cleveland Magistrates Court in June this year, were fined a total of $20,650 and had their boat, motor, trailer and crab pots seized.
The boat, worth about $6000, was destroyed at Advanced Metal Recyclers at Capalaba on Wednesday, with Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries Bill Byrne and and QBFP officials on site for the destruction.
Mr Byrne said building a secret compartment in a vessel was “a calculated attempt at breaking Queensland’s fishing rules”.
“Today’s boat destruction serves as a timely reminder to everyone to follow the rules and fish and catch responsibly,” he said.
“While the boat was forfeited to the State, we were not prepared to re-sell it as we could not guarantee the safety and integrity of the vessel due to alterations made to the hull.
“The destruction of this vessel means that it will not be used in the future for any further pillage of Queensland’s crab stocks.”
QBFP officer James Hohenhaus said the crabbers had been under extensive surveillance for a number of hours before their vessel was intercepted.
“Recreational fishers should make sure their catch is the correct size and within the possession limit,” he said.
“By ensuring people are following the regulations, fisheries resources will be around for current and future generations.”
Mr Hohenhaus said so far this year, illegal crabbers had been given spot fines totalling $30,000 and eight had been taken to court on crabbing offences, with fines totalling $34,000.
He said people who suspect illegal fishing, whether they see it in person or online, should report it to the Fishwatch hotline on 1800 017 116.
For more information on Queensland fishing regulations, visit www.fisheries.qld.gov.au, call 13 25 23 or download the free ‘Qld Fishing’ app from Apple and Google app stores.